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trust? that which Pharaoh's daughter said to the nurse, “Take this child, and nurse it for me'-" Take this child,” God says to every parent, “and nurse it for me. I give it you in charge. I commit it to your band.” And, though you do right to call in all the help you can, carrying it to the ministers of Christ or to institutions set up to instruct it, yet you have the charge; and I must tell you that there is no solid ground for your hope of any happiness for it, even in this world, till religion takes hold of its heart.
I have especial reason for speaking thus, because I look back with shame, and confess how many years
I was a torment and distress to my parents; and therefore I speak as a public witness : and the Royal Preacher is also a witness; for, while he calls others to hear his doctrine, he says, 'I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thy heart retain my words: keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom: get understanding :' and it as if he had added, "The Lord gave a blessing to my father and mother; and here I stand, a witness to the success of such conduct."
I would speak a word to the hearts of you parents. I would appeal to you; for I am a parent also, and I know how discouraging it is, after striving to turn the hearts of children, to see them return back again, and start aside like a broken bow. Our hearts are ready to faint in this work; and to plead, “ It never can be done :" but this is a great temptation.
I would have you all despair, indeed, of doing any thing to purpose without God, either for your own souls or your children's. I smile at the man who comes forward and says, I have an infallible plan! I have a sure method of education! I can bend the mind, and teach to purpose!" The man is blind, and knows not that God only can change and direct ihe heart.
Yet, while we should despair of effecting any thing by our own power and wisdom, I charge it upon you in the name of God, I charge it upon you as one that would secure you from the temptations of Satan, never to despair respecting your children: and for this reason; because you may put your trust in a Divine Power, when you can hope in nothing else.
The question is this, Has God spoken to us in his word? Has he not said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old-mark that, when he is old, if not before he shall not depart from • it ?
On the other hand, has he not spoken of neglecting them? of giving them up to their own lusts ? Has he not said, that, As a man soweth, so shall he also reap: he that soweth to the flesh?—that pampers his child, teaches him to admire what God hates, and slight what God recommends—must take all the sad consequences of their eternal ruin upon his own head?
'In the morning,' therefore, sow thy seed; and in the evening, withhold not thy hand. The husbandman does not despair, but sows the seed, and waits for the season: that is, he waits for God's time. Seed-time and harvest are periodical in nature : but the seed which the parent sows has no such periodical
It comes up when God pleases. And I must also tell you, as a public witness for God and his truth, that you should never despair. No distressed woman ever hoped more against hope, than the mother of your Preacher: but she prayed; and while she prayed, she waited patiently, and put her trust in an Omnipotent Arm. Like the Syro-Phenician woman, , she cried, Lord help me! She not only prayed, and waited; but she instructed bis mind, and then waited God's season: and she lived long enough to hear that her child preached that Gospel which he once deVOL. 11.
spised;' and she said, “Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!
My dear friends, it was on this principle, that Noah framed his ark: 'warned of God, and moved with fear, he prepared an ark to the saving of his house : his faith saved his family from the Flood. God bears testimony, also, (Gen. xviii, 19,) to the faith of Abraham: 'I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him :' and them that honour me,' God says, “I will honour. It is said, (Exod. ix, 20, 21,) 'He, that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee unto the houses ;' and they were saved from the storm: 'and he, that regarded not the word of the Lord, left his servants and his cattle in the field;' that is, they let things take their course: and that is the general way of the world.
I beseech you to take up the holy reasoning, then, of the holy men of whom I have been speaking—the holy resolution, in the midst of an ungodly world, of saving your own souls, and those of your children. Say with Joshua, ' As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' Think of the case of Eli, who, though a good man, forgot good rules, neglected his sons, and suffered them to run at random: God brought a heavy judgment on the house of Eli, and told him that as he had honoured his sons more than him, he would bring reproach upon his house. I beseech you, therefore, to look on your children, in this way of true affection, and not to be anxious about their advancement in this world. But be you anxious concerning that, which our Lord pointed out: 'Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her.'
My dear hearers, I conclude with this observation : what is interesting truth with respect to children, is interesting truth to us all. Their bodies need food, and raiment, and care; but may not instruction to their souls be compared to food, and raiment, and medicine for their bodies ? Their souls must have the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and the Medicines of the Gospel-or perish for ever! They need these to strengthen them; to enable them to arise, and travel through this wilderness world, in their way to a better.
I pray God, therefore, that whatever I have been saying to the children, both parents and children may so take hold of, as to take hold of knowledge, and to keep it fast, and to take care of it as that which contains eternal life and every blessing. May the Holy Spirit apply these truths to all our hearts! Amen.
ADVANTAGES OF THE HOUSE OF MOURNING.
ECCLESIASTES. VII, 2. It is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to go to the House
Nothing seems more contradictory to the general sentiments of mankind, than this declaration of the Wise Man. I shall, therefore,
1. STATE THE SENSE OF THE WORDS. 2. ILLUSTRATE THE FACT.
1. With respect to the SENSE, it seems sufficiently obvious.
“It is better,” as one expresses it, “to go to a funeral, than to a festival." A man may lawfully do both: he may glorify God, as Christ did, in going to both: Christ went to the marriage festival at Cana; and he went to the grave in Bethany, and groaned and wept there.
The House of Mourning is to be considered, however, as a very distinct thing from any sort of monkish austerity. Men are not taught of God to be ingenious in tormenting themselves; nor to be volunteers in humility, as the Apostle expresses it. The Wise Man here speaks of any dispensation of affliction, which God has set before us in his providence; “There is a time to weep, and to meet an afflictive dispensation; and, instead of wishing to avoid such dispensation by sinful methods, the Wise Man tells us in the text, that ‘It is better to go to the House of Mourning, than to the House of Feasting.'